One interesting fact heading into the mid-term elections: Almost none of the GOP Senate candidates seem to believe in the idea that humans are heating the planet. A few hedge their bets—John McCain says he’s no longer sure if global warming is “man-made or natural.” (In 2004, he told me: “The race is on. Are we going to have significant climate change and all its consequences, or are we going to try to do something early on?”) Most are more plainspoken. Marco Rubio, for instance, attacks his opponent Charlie Crist as “a believer in man-made global warming,” explaining, “I don’t think there’s the scientific evidence to justify it. The climate is always changing.” The most likely cause of that change, according to Ron Johnson, who is leading the Senate race in Wisconsin: “It’s far more likely that it’s just sunspot activity.”
The political implications are clear. Climate legislation didn’t pass the current Congress, and it won’t have a prayer in the next one. If the Republicans take the Senate, James Inhofe has said that the Environment and Public Works Committee will “stop wasting all of our time on all that silly stuff, all the hearings on global warming.” And in the House, Representative Darrell Issa says that he would turn his Oversight and Government Reform Committee over to the eleventeenth investigation of Climategate, the British e-mail scandal. But, for the moment, it’s less the legislative fallout that interests me than what this denial of climate change says about modern conservatism. On what is quite possibly the single biggest issue the planet has faced, American conservatism has reached a near-unanimous position, and that position is: pay no attention to all those scientists.
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